NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Music, dancing, a play, food, drink and a silent auction made going out on a frigid evening well worth the effort. 

The event was NP Public Art’s third annual fundraiser, “You Gotta Have Art Cabaret 2018,” which took place on Saturday, Jan. 6, at the DeCorso Center.

The evening’s entertainment began with a one-act play, followed by some dancing, singing, a guitar and two violin compositions — all on the theme of love and difficult relationships. Performing were New Providence High and Middle school students, as well as eight college students, each one a graduate of the high school.

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Before the performances began, attendees could try a variety of appetizers, including fruit, cheese and sushi, and desserts, most of them made by Beth Gallagher. While enjoying the food, there were baskets to check out and bids to make in hopes of bringing a home treasure, while supporting NP Public Art.


The first piece of the evening was a one-act play, “Check Please,” about a series of unbelievably bad first dates written by Jonathan Rand and directed by Theresa Turner. How bad? Well, one person had multiple personalities, one of which was a monkey, another couldn’t stop stealing and one couldn’t listen to his date - and that’s just the start. 

The cast members included Alex Fischbeck, Cooper Fischbeck, Ivan Grandov, Gabby Marchini, Emma Morse, Betsy,  Kathleen and Owen Newcombe, Sarah Wachtel and Ian Zane. All are students at either New Providence Middle or High school.

The cabaret continued the relationship theme from earlier in the evening. Jamie Baer Peterson, who is on the faculty of the Wharton Institute of Performing Arts, directed the cabaret, which featured New Providence High School graduates, home for the holidays from college. They were accompanied by pianist Clifford Parrish of Bernards, the longtime music director at Stanley Congregational Church in Chatham.

The performers included:

·      Shannon Charlton, a soprano, and sophmore at Rutgers University;

·      John Ertman, tenor and guitarist, and freshman at Northwestern University;

·       Lara Gavagan, soprano, dancer and freshman at NYU;

·       Sasha Kandybin, baritone, violinist and freshman at The Cleveland Institute of Music;

·       Noah Kudman, baritone, dancer and sophomore at Northwestern University

·       Natalie Pereira, alto, and freshman at Syracuse University;

·       Emily Peterson, alto, and freshman at Brigham Young University, and

·       Paige Peterson, violinist and violist, and senior at Brigham Young University.

The entire ensemble sang the song "You Gotta Have Heart" from “Damn Yankees,” with alternate lyrics written by Jamie Peterson and John Ertman to  celebrate NP Public Art. Portions of each of the musical performances can be seen in the video, above.

At the end of the evening, Arlene Regan announced the winning bidders in the silent auction. Members of the NP Public Art Fundraising Committee include: Mary Jean Canziani, Jill LeFevre, Beth Gallagher, Leslie Wachtel, Antoinette Marchini, Turner, Regan and Peterson.

NP Public Art was initiated by the late local artist Marjan Nirou-Saniee in 2015, with the mission of enriching the quality of New Providence by making works of public art a feature of the community. It receives no funding from the Borough.

The three inaugural sculptures were made possible by the first annual fundraiser two year ago, which also featured a silent auction and a play performed by high school students. Thanks to that fundraiser, and other private donations, there are now six public sculptures throughout New Providence. There will soon be a special piece of art made by Bob Hill out of stainless steel which will be installed in the spring, on the wall outside the the Recreation Department. The piece is called "Marjan Coral," in memory and honor of Marjan, said Regan. 

These pieces of art, however, are leased for one to two years, so in order to continue the public art program, ongoing support is needed from the community. Members of the community may make a tax deductible contribution to NP Public Art by sending a check to: NPPA, 360 Elkwood Avenue, New Providence.NJ 07974